The original box of the game Elite courtesy of
A little more than thirty years ago in 1984 a phenomenon was started. It was inconspicuous and innovative and years ahead of its time. It was a software program first of all created by two programmers (David Braben and Ian Bell), one a Physicist and the other a Programmer. The software ran on little more than 40 Kilobytes and fit on a low density floppy disk (or tape if you had a tape drive).
It was the first three dimensional polygonal game ever written. Not only that but it was also the very first graphics based open world simulation.
It fit 1800 star systems with orbital space stations, 3 dimensional flight mechanics, hyperspace, trading, bounty hunting, interstellar piracy, asteroid mining and space station docking (both pilot flown and automatic pilot) all into this seemingly small and innocuous application.
It was simply called Elite.
I remember working a job at the time while attending a training program for computers. I asked my foreman to stop at a computer shop just so I could buy this little heard of game for $69.99 Canadian. It came with a great novella that introduced you to the concept of the game and a short manual with keyboard shortcuts. I spent hours with this game and this is where I fell in love with 3D and simulation. I'm still waiting on my order for a simulated girlfriend and successful career. Maybe a few million simulated readers of my books too <smiles> so I can donate a few million simulated dollars to some simulated charities. If you're going to dream, you have to dream big.
At the time it was a hit amongst gamers (a relatively small group by today's standards). That group became a hardcore group of followers loyal to their origins playing that game until this day.
All without the benefit of advanced hardware this game had single handedly (with other games by programmers like Peter Molyneux, John Carmack, Chris Sawyer, Sid Meier and William "Wild Bill" Stealy) had brought about a revolution in simulation and gaming. Open world games had been conquered by David Braben and Ian Bell long before Morrowind or the Elder Scrolls had graced any computer screens. Technically Bethesda's first open world games were the Elder Scrolls series started by Arena and then by the 3D game Terminator: Skynet based upon the Terminator franchise started by James Cameron and Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The game featured a 3D multi-kilometer sized world you could explore and scavenge from while fighting the 3D machines of SKYNET including our favorite killer cyborg, the T800 Cyberdyne Systems Model 101.
Elite: Dangerous. Did it achieve the hurdle of meeting all that hype? No. Not even close. It exceeded it by light years and is still going strong.
Elite: Dangerous Trailer 2014 with game play footage.
The visuals of the game itself are absolutely stunning, even on my relatively modest hardware. The game and presentation scales well and without nonsense. You as the pilot experience the whole adventure from the cockpit of your spacecraft which you fly from system to system to trade and accomplish missions if you so choose. Of course you are free in this game, so if you'd prefer just to explore you can do that too (as long as you're earning something to pay for the fuel and firepower you'll need to defend yourself. In this game world you are free. Free to explore. Free to do as you choose within it. You can explore star systems and then sell the data you collect about unexplored systems to universal cartographers in space stations across the galaxy.
|Courtesy of http://www.wccftech.com|
Elite: Horizons, the addon for the game that allows you to land directly on planetary surfaces and even boot around on planetary speeder vehicles. Added as well is the ability to edit your pilot's appearance (female or male). So its great for all of you Ellen Ripleys or Han Solos out there just hoping to blast some aliens to smithereens or smuggle some life saving medicine to the local freedom fighters. More information is available on the Elite Horizons forums page.
Wanting a bit more of a Star Wars or Star Trek like experience in your game of Elite? There's Power Play, which brings galactic powers fighting for control of the galaxy through trade, coercion, diplomacy and military might to the table. You can join one of the different factions of which there's ten and help them to overtake the others by nearly any means you choose. Keep in mind there's other players with the same thing in mind. Joining a faction comes with its own benefits and detriments (for instance affecting you stance with other factions). You could always just go it alone if you wanted to as well. Its really up to you. Keep in mind that all of this is available for you to experience with your friends and theirs as well. Its all for you to decide.
Elite: Dangerous. You'll believe its possible when you do and nothing can prepare us for the reality better than simulation and just like the long wait between the first version of Elite and the modern incarnation Elite: Dangerous, when we do take our first steps to the stars, it will exceed our wildest expectations.
Brian Joseph Johns